Roma Come From Behind Against Atalanta to Retain The UWCC Title
Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) witnessed another defence today as champions Roma travelled to Bergamo to take on struggling Atalanta in Serie A.
The home side came into this match looking over their shoulders at a potential relegation dogfight should they not improve fast. With just one win in five, Atalanta needed to kick start their season with a good result against an in-form Roma side.
However, their confidence must be in tatters after their last outing, a humiliating 1-0 loss to minnows Lumezzane in the Coppa Italia, throwing up one of the biggest shocks in the competition's history.
Roma would have been looking to capitalize on that, but at the same time would be weary of an Atalanta backlash. Having gone four games unbeaten going into this match, including a draw with league leaders Inter, they were understandably the favourites.
And, this time, the favourites came out on top as Roma came from behind to run out 2-1 victors.
Claudio Ranieri's men almost got off to the perfect start when, after just ten minutes, the dangerous Mirko Vucinic found himself on the end of a sweeping counter-attacking move.
His shot was well saved by Atalanta goalkeeper Andrea Consigli, but Vucinic was left reflecting on what perhaps should have been the opening goal.
Instead, that goal came three minutes later, and Vucinic's misery was further compounded by the fact it went in at the other end.
A ball down the left hand side found Fabio Ceravolo in an alarming amount of space from Roma's point of view. The Italian proceeded to enter the penalty box before cutting inside Juan and curling his shot past the despairing dive of Julio Sergio to give the home side a shock lead.
Juan was involved at the other end some 15 minutes later, this time gifted a chance to redeem himself and level the sides in one action.
A vicious free-kick from David Pizarro found the Brazilian centre-back who somehow headed over from close range. Had he scored, the flag would have more than likely gone up, but it was still a golden opportunity missed for the away side.
The first-half hero from last week, Francesco Totti, almost helped Roma to an equaliser ten minutes later, as he won his side another free-kick.
John-Arne Riise stepped up to unleash a trademark thunderbolt, but the Norweigan's effort flew just over the bar.
Roma finally did get the all-important leveller right before the half-time interval, and it came from another set piece.
This time it was in the shape of a corner, and Pizarro's cross found Vucinic, who climbed considerably higher than his marker to head the ball home.
While going into the half-time break ahead may have done wonders for Atalanta's confidence, the equaliser seemed to have the opposite effect, and Roma took control in the second half.
Despite this, they weren't able to conjure up many clear-cut chances in the opening stages of the second half.
In fact, their first meaningful effort came ten minutes in when Vucinic, alert as always, spotted Consigli off his line and tried to lob the Atalanta 'keeper. The idea was faultless, but the execution just let him down as it drifted past the post.
After benefiting from a comeback last week, that of skipper Francesco Totti, Roma finally completed a comeback of a different kind just after the hour mark and, once again, it was Vucinic who was the architect.
His delayed cross found the lung-bursting forward run of Simone Perrotta, who added the finishing touch with his head, leaving Atalanta manager Antonio Conte scratching the same part of his anatomy at the lack of marking.
While Roma's first goal seemed to deflate Atalanta, the second galvanized them, and this, along with Roma's willingness to defend their newly acquired lead, led to the home side seeing more of the ball.
Their two Simones teamed up to create a good chance, as Padoin sent in a cross for Tiribocchi, but the latter just couldn't make significant contact to tuck it inside the post.
Cristiano Doni then had a long-range effort of his own which Julio Sergio needed two attempts to gather.
The final moments produced a number of chances as Atalanta strove for the equaliser and Roma looked to hit them on the break.
Riise narrowly avoided turning the ball into his own net after a dangerous cross from Valdes before Tiribocchi claimed, perhaps too ambitiously, for a penalty after a tussle with Juan.
Tiberio Guarente flashed a diving header just inches wide as the time ran out for the home side, but it was Roma who could have had the final say.
Vucinic was once again involved as he fed the ball through to Totti, but the captain's shot was well saved by Consigli.
The result means Roma become the first UWCC Champions to win an away match since Chelsea beat Stoke on Sept. 12th of this year. Ceravolo's goal was also the 50th goal scored in UWCC title matches this season.
78.6 percent of voters in the poll correctly predicted that Roma would successfully retain their UWCC title against Atalanta, so well done once again to the majority!
Roma 2-1 Fulham (Roma become new champions)
Atalanta 1-2 Roma
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Roma's next title defence comes on Thursday as they host Basle in the Europa League. Could Basle become the greatest club side in the world?!
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